Challenging race conditions in Andorra turned out excellent Canadian results in Sunday’s XCO World Cup. Gunnar Holmgren landed his first elite XCO top-20 finish in the men’s race while Emilly Johnston scored another top-10 result in the under-23 women’s race.
Holmgren hauls through mud at high-altitude World Cup XCO
Hot off a 12th-place finish in Friday’s elite short track cross country (XCC) race, Gunnar Holmgren started Sunday’s XCO further forward usual. Since XCC results determine start order for the first rows of the longer XCO race, the Pivot Cycles-OTE racer sat way up in the second row waiting for the race to start.
Holmgren successfully converted that start-grid advantage into his best-ever elite XCO World Cup finish. After a few top-30 finishes in 2022, the Orillia, Ont. rider earned his first top-20 on Sunday, finishing 20th in wet, muddy conditions in Andorra.
Up front, Mathias Flükiger (Thoms Maxon) earned his first win since his provisional suspension fiasco last summer. The Swiss racer beat France’s Thomas Girot (Canyon Cllctv), Olympic and world champion Tom Pidcock (INEOS), Jordan Sarrou (BMC) and Friday’s XCC winner Luca Schwarzbauer to claim victory in Andorra.
Sean Fincham (Berria Vittoria) was the next Canadian across the line after Holmgren, finishing 45th and the last Canuck on the lead lap. Tyler Orschel was 68th, Victor Verreault 74th, Raphael Auclair 76th, Peter Disera 77th, Quinton Disera 96th and Léandre Bouchard 103rd.
Jackson leads Canadian women in Andorra
Jenn Jackson (Liv Factory) finished a season-high 26th place in the elite women’s XCO on Sunday to lead the Canadian elite women’s results. Laurie Arseneault (Pittstop) followed in 48th, Sandra Walter (Liv Canada) finished one lap down in 55th.
XC Marathon world champion Moana Mitterwallner (Cannondale Factory Racing) earns the elite women’s World Cup win in Andorra, her first XCO victory. The Austrian finished ahead of Alessandra Keller (Thomus Maxon), XCO world champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot (INEOS), Loana Lecomte (Canyon Cllctv) and Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing).
Savilia Blunk (Rockrider Ford) was the top North American in ninth, followed by a resurgent Kate Courtney (Scott-SRAM) in 10th.
Johnston adds top 10 in under-23 XCO
Emilly Johnston was the best-placed Canadian in Sunday’s U23 XCO racing, following up a 10th in the U23 XCC with an impressive sixth place in the longer-format Olympic cross country race. The Vancouver Islander has found success with the Europe-based Trek Future Racing this season, including her first u23 podium earlier in the year in Nove Mesto. Ella McPhee, the only other Canadian in the race, added another excellent World Cup finish to her season, placing 27th.
Noelle Buri led a Swiss 1-2 in the under-23 women’s race, leading Ronja Blochlinger across the line. Noemie Garnier of France edged out new world champion Samara Maxwell to take the final podium spot in third.
Riley Amos (Trek Factory Racing) took a big win in the under-23 men’s race, with the U.S. rider beating a French duo of Adrien Boichis and Luca Martin to claim victory in Andorra.
Carter Woods (Giant Factory Off-Road Team) had an off day after a rough world championships, finishing 21st in Pal Arsinal. Alexander Woodford finished 71st while Noah Ramsay did not finish, pulling out on the fifth lap.